Advantages of an Engineering Degree
- An engineering degree is a terminal degree (it sounds bad, doesn’t it? But it’s good). It means a bachelor degree provides enough preparation to go out and work as an engineer for the rest of your life. In most professions, such as law or medicine, a graduate degree requiring 2-5 years beyond the bachelor level is necessary before professional status is attained.
- It is efficient. An engineering curriculum is jam-packed with course work and it is definitely challenging. The time a student spends pursuing engineering is a direct investment in him- or herself. Hard work for four years can pay off with a rewarding and satisfying career for 20, 30 or 40 years.
- There is status and an attractive salary associated with an engineering degree.
- Engineering careers tend to be satisfying and challenging.
Why Study Mechatronics?
Mechatronics has been popular in Japan and Europe for many years but has been slow to gain industrial and academic acceptance as a field and practice in Great Britain and the United States. In the past, machine and product design has been the domain of mechanical engineers. After the machine was designed by mechanical engineers, solutions to control and programming problems were added by software and computer engineers. This sequential-engineering approach usually resulted in less-than-optimal designs and is now recognized as less than optimal itself.
The prime role of mechatronics is one of initiation and integration throughout the whole of the design process, with the mechatronics engineer as the leader. Experts in the interdisciplinary mechatronics field must acquire general knowledge of various techniques and be able to master the entire design process. They must be able to use the special knowledge resources of other people and the particular blend of technologies that will provide the most economic, innovative, elegant and appropriate solution to the problem at hand. Industry needs mechatronics engineers to continue to rapidly develop innovative products with performance, quality and low cost.
Mechatronics is most often studied at the graduate level by students with backgrounds in electrical or mechanical engineering.
- Virginia Tech Robotics and Mechatronics Lab
- NC State Smart Structures and Materials Laboratory
- NASA/JSC Software, Robotics and Simulation Division
- The Mobile Robot Laboratory (Georgia Tech)
- Clemson University Intelligent Systems
- Stanford Smart Product Design Lab
- MIT Model-based Embedded and Robotic Systems
- San Jose State University Mechatronics
- Mechatronics Research Group at Loughborough
- Mechatronics and Artificial Intelligence (University of Dundee)
- Mechatronics and Control Research Group, South Bank University, London
- Institute of Robotics, Switzerland
- UNESCO Chair on Mechatronics, Istanbul
- Johannes Kepler University of Linz
The engineering major prepares students for a variety of careers in the fields of aerospace, electrical, environmental management, computer systems, city planning, and many, many more.
Mechatronics engineers can work in any company that develops, designs or manufactures and markets “smart” devices. Opportunities exist in manufacturing, sales and as well as research. Mechatronic devices have crept into everyday life. Examples include:
- Anti-lock brakes
- A sophisticated control system takes over the braking function when the sensors recognize one or more wheels are locking up.
- Computer disk drives
- Humidity sensitive clothes dryers and windshield wipers
- How do these devices “know” if clothes are still damp or drizzle is hitting the windshield? Sensors, that’s how.
- Mechatronic devices can be found in medicine and surgery, agriculture, buildings, homes, automobiles, the toy and entertainment industry, intelligent aids for the elderly and disabled.
Visit the What Can I Do with This Major? website to learn more. The UNC Asheville Career Center also provides support and resources to help you land your dream job.
The employment outlook for engineering is very bright. Average starting salaries vary by discipline (civil, mechanical, electrical. etc.), but are typically in the $50,000-$70,000 per year range. Graduates obtaining jobs at the higher end of this range typically have very strong grades and a resume which demonstrates involvement, leadership and relevant work experience (internships or co-op).
For the Mechatronics degree, the average starting salary in 2014 was $62,300 per year. For the past 5 years, the vast majority of mechatronics graduates who sought employment were employed in engineering positions within 3 months of graduation.